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About Those Purple Street Lights On The Roads (Have You Seen Them?)

by SharonKurheg

About a month before Covid exploded so much that it was deemed a worldwide pandemic, Joe and I bought tickets to see a touring production of Hamilton, up in Jacksonville. It’s about 2.5 hours from where we live in Orlando.

The show, originally scheduled for March, 2020, was, of course cancelled…and then re-scheduled a few times. Each time it was rescheduled, we we offered a refund if we wanted, but we were willing to hold on to the tickets and just wait.

Touring Broadway shows finally went back on tour a couple of weeks ago and our opportunity to be “in the room where it happened” in Jacksonville finally came to be, albeit 20 months later than anticipated.

The show was as wonderful as always (it wasn’t the first time we’ve seen it) and when it was over, we started our long drive home.

We took Rt. 95 south, which hugs the eastern seaboard, until we reach I-4, and then we headed west. For a good portion of our drive, we noticed that many, albeit not all of the street lamps on the highway were more of a purple hue than the white we were used to.

PC: Reddit / LemonWaluigi

We’ve driven on those roads at nighttime before, and they were always white. So we wondered what was up with the purple lights. Were they some sort of new, energy saving light? Had they been proven to decrease road rage or increase alertness? Did someone think they were just prettier or cooler looking than the old white lights?

None of the above.

It turns out they’re a manufacturer defect.

Yes, really.

The lights in question are LEDs. They start out as white but over time they start to change to purple. The problem comes from a component in the light that fails prematurely. That allows too much of the purple light spectrum to shine through and it changes the color of the light from white to purple (or purplish blue).

To date, the problem has occurred in Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin, and potentially other states. Our friends in the Great White North have had the issue in Winnipeg, as well. We’re talking thousands upon thousands of lights, all told.

Here’s a video of what they look like as you’re driving:

Purple street lights look cool, but they’re actually malfunctioning LEDs and need to be replaced. from NorthCarolina

Local energy companies are replacing the lights, but it’s a slow process since they have to be replaced one by one. Wile Milwaukee, for example, says they only have about 300 to replace, cities such as Topeka and Wichita have between 2,000 and 3,000 purple lights.

Joe was driving and he said that at 1 o’clock in the morning, they looked weird. Frankly, I thought the purple lights looked kind of nice. Too bad they’ll eventually have to be replaced.

Have you seen them where you are?

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

4 comments

Christian October 8, 2021 - 3:38 pm

Interesting. I’ve seen them in Tennessee and wondered. Thanks for clearing that up.

Reply
Bob October 9, 2021 - 11:33 am

Got to wonder if it may help maintain your night vision

Reply
BRYAN October 13, 2021 - 11:49 am

Right in target with your comments related to Wichita, KS. Fans of Kansas State University think it’s the best thing ever. People who do prefer other universities are not as positive. And it does make it harder to drive at night, especially when you get a mix of old and new bulbs.

Reply
Andy October 14, 2021 - 9:17 am

Yes, in Apex, NC, there’s a Holiday Inn Express where all the outside lights have that bluish/purplish tint. Make the hotel look like it’s decorated for Halloween year-round.

Reply

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